How to bid at auction: What happens if the auction is passed in?

Passed in at auction

Are you interested in knowing how to bid at auction? This series will help you better understand how to equip yourself to secure the best outcome at a property auction. 

This is the second post in a two part series. See our previous piece here – How to bid at auction: Be prepared.

Video – How not to bid at an auction

Know what to do if the property is passed in at auction

Have a plan in place in the event the property is passed in at auction. Transparency is limited once a property is passed in, and you can find yourself in a more competitive negotiating environment than that of the auction itself.

Tips I have found useful include:

  • negotiate where you can see what is taking place e.g. which other parties are interested in negotiating a sale;
  • prepare a hard copy letter prior to auction that states the maximum price you are willing to pay. Having something in writing can sometimes give credence to your negotiating position; and
  • to dispel a common myth, even if you’re not the highest bidder and a property is passed in, you can still negotiate to buy the property.

Prepare bidding strategies

You need to adapt your bidding strategy depending on the auction, however a couple of common ones are:

  • grind it out by bidding $500 to $1,000 more each time;
  • try to quickly win the auction when it starts to ease up by bidding two or three times more then the current bid increment; and
  • if circumstances allow you can sometimes throw in a bid on the proviso something is included e.g. you might be happy to go $5,000 more if the pool table is included.

Get your pre-auction paperwork in order

Prior to auction you should ask the selling agent roughly how much deposit will be required and how you need to pay (personal cheque, bank cheque or deposit bond).

Remember that if you use a bank cheque you might end up paying more than the required deposit if you have purchased the property at a lower than expected price. Bank cheques can start to add up, so it might be worthwhile to secure a cheque book in advance. Alternatively you could try to negotiate to pay the deposit by bank transfer the next business day (note: this arrangement needs to be in writing before the auction).

Considering buying before the auction

There is always the strategy of buying before auction, which doesn’t necessarily mean paying more to secure the property. If you know the true value of a property there is no harm in trying to negotiate before the auction. Make the offer time conditional to place pressure on the vendor. Should this strategy fail you can still attend and bid at auction.

Professional bidding assistance

If you still feel that bidding at an auction is outside your comfort zone, or you simply want to secure expert advice, then using an experienced buyer’s agent who bids at auction on a regular basis within your area could improve your chance of success at auction.


About the Author: David is an avid web, finance and property geek who decided to combine these interests and found BAG in his spare time. If you have thoughts, issues or questions you can find him at LinkedIn, Google+ or alternatively drop him an email david at

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